Friday, December 28, 2012

A seedy situation...

Well, Christmas has come and gone yet again...and now, free from distractions of the holidays, I turn my attentions to the garden. Amazingly, here in Portland, we are still waiting for frost (although some outlying areas have had frosts already).

While quite a few gardeners would rejoice at a winter without a hard freeze, I always view them with a degree of suspicion. While no one can say that mounds of collapsed, blackened foliage are pleasing to the eye, frosts bring a finality to a chapter of the gardening year. They mark the end of one year...and make way for the next by clearing away the previous years' growth.

echinops seeds
It's been so warm (and wet) in fact, that the seed heads of a few plants have actually situ! I first noticed it on the Echinops above. Most of these get stripped by Finches during the winter...but the few that escaped notice have started their own little air born colony!

echinacea seeds
There are also loads of Echinacea seed heads that have sprouted...perhaps I'll lob these over the fences of a few neighbors in my own version of "seed bombing"!

Of course, the dark side of all this is the proliferation of weed seedlings. I'm going to guess that every Portlander currently has a large, healthy crop of Popweed "popping" up around their gardens. I learned the hard way that these need to be eradicated before they flower...or they'll fling their seed everywhere. Luckily, they are pretty easy to weed out when they are small.

impatiens balfourii
The exceedingly fertile Impatiens balfourii have also started appearing already in the back garden. I swear, every single seed must germinate...and they are tougher than you think. I always think of Impatiens as being delicate, shade and moisture-loving things. I had self-sown seedlings growing in paving sand, between pavers in half-day sun all summer...and while they wilted during the hottest part of the day...they looked fine otherwise.

knautia in gravel
Naughty, naughty Knautia! Seeing this mini forest of Knautia seedlings, I'm struck at how hard they were to get to germinate when I winter-sowed them a few year ago. I think maybe 1 in 24 seeds, in the garden, they self-sow with abandon! I will definitely have to cull these out this spring...and will likely give them away to others as well! This is one of those plants that whose positives far outweigh its least in my mind ;-)

knautia in chairknautia in chair close
As I was taking stock of the back yard (trying to ascertain if a certain Lily was close enough to dormancy that I could risk moving it) I noticed something in the seat of this chair. At fist, I thought it was merely leaf litter...but a closer inspection revealed more Knautia seedlings...growing right in the frame of the chair itself!

While you'd never be fooled into thinking it's summer right now, with all the green about, it certainly doesn't feel like winter!


  1. The lack of frost is making me nervous too. I want snow!

    I'm nervous now about what my knautia is going to do. :)

  2. Hi Scott,

    Haha, I found some Corncockle seeds sprouting in their heads today too - I released them and let them fend for themselves on the ground instead!

    Good luck with your Knautia forests... No sign of such forests here :(

  3. I've got a beautiful crop of pop weed here as well. It's so cool to see the airborn sprout colonies - only in the soggy PNW! I wouldn't mind not having frost this winter just to see what that would be like. Happy NY!

  4. I've got loads of that pesty popweed here too. I've got to get out there soon on my hands and knees and start pulling it. I try to get them even when they are still really tiny. Isn't it funny how seeds will sprout in the unlikeliest places? I found quite a few sprouted Echinacea seeds a month or so ago when I was harvesting them. At least it's a good indication that they are healthy, viable seeds.

  5. Popweed is BAD news. Lots of it here too.

  6. We have had a couple of frosts and one or two nights just below freezing, but not cold enough to tell the garden to shut down completely. I need a deep freeze to seal the deal then I can get out there and cut stuff way back, and hopefully it will kill a few insects too, especially fleas.

  7. The warm weather here allows me to complete some fall garden chores that were not done in the fall. But it is not warm enough to create more chores dealing with weed germination like you are. Snow is forecast tonight.

  8. I think the funniest seedlings I see around here are the ones that pop up in our door mat. It seems to be the perfect moisture retaining growing medium. IKEA is definitely missing out on a marketing/sales opportunity.

    If this forecast is to be believed: then we are definitely done with our freakishly "warm" weather...

  9. I look at your garden and think: what? No freeze? Must be California. he he. Anyways, we've had lows near single digits in the last week, with more to come. My feet get cold even in the house. hah. The seeds germinating in the seed head kind of looks bizarre.

  10. Show the wonder of winter seed sowing! LOL

  11. Amazing. I've never seen seeds germinate on the seed head. My knautia is also a prolific at germination.

  12. This weekend...freezing. Be careful what you wish for.

  13. We are in the opposite season here in Australia, but I have the very same problem with weeds sprouting everywhere thanks to recent rain. The worst of them are both from trees, courtesy of my lovely neighbour (no irony intended). I have dozens, if not hundreds, of seedlings of Copperpod (Peltophorum pterocarpum). Because I have been away a lot this year, many are young saplings 2-3 foot high and well past the point of hand weeding. For good measure I noticed I have a 3 ft silky oak seedling growing in the retaining wall around my pool. This also came from his yard, but has recently been cut down. As soon as I get a chance I will be heading out there with secateurs and poison.

  14. Hope you had a happy Christmas and best wishes for 2013 and your garden plans!

  15. Hope that you enjoyed the festivities Scott and wishing you all the best for 2013. May your garden flourish apart from those unwanted seedlings. Amazed to see them sprouting from the chair :)

  16. That is a naughty little knautia !

  17. Ciao Scott! Seeing the seedlings on the seed heads was incredible! I wish I was your neighbor to come over and swap some of those knautias... :-)

    I wish you a happy new year and I hope I could leave comments more easily in the new year, I have to write the same comment at least 5 times every time in our blog... :-(

  18. Always interesting to find what has germinated and sprouted up. Love the seedlings on the seedhead photos, saw that from another bloggers a few years ago.
    Happy New Year Scott.

  19. We've had plenty of frost and several hard freezes, but need a lot more winter rest before the garden will be ready for spring. I love how tenacious your seeds are. :o)

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  21. I hear what you are sayin' for is almost like...let's get this show on the road...I am gonna trim back all the old growth anyways come spring....let's have some frost ....some snow....some balance! :)

  22. I love those seed head photos! We have had a couple dips below 32º and the ferns have blackened in more open areas and will need cutting at some point. But we are in that wait and see mode, too, for the most part.